by Marzia De Giuli
ROME, June 15 (Xinhua) -- China's 13th Five-Year Plan will be a driver of the strengthened collaboration with Italy, Italian experts said here in Rome at a conference held earlier this week to give an overall picture of the future development of China.
The economies of the two countries are more and more complementary, and have growing meeting points, Chinese Ambassador to Italy Li Ruiyu said in his address to the conference.
Li said that in recent years bilateral cooperation has been deepened remarkably, with Chinese companies achieving great success in Italy and Italian companies increasing their presence in China. This mutual beneficial exchange has brought new jobs and wealth for the two sides, he said.
"Complementarity" is the key word to exploit the huge collaboration potential between two countries both boasting long history and deep cultural roots, highlighted Marco Simoni, a professor and economic advisor to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
"China and Italy are two friend countries which are looking at each other with a strategic glance," he said.
China's 13th Five-Year Plan, Simoni went on saying, represents the Asian country's big challenge to shift from an export-led one to a more mature economy, "a challenge that the entire world is looking at with great attention and which is not only about China, but about many other countries," he highlighted.
Antonino Laspina, chief trade commissioner with the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE), said Italy and China already have signed agreements in key sectors such as agriculture, environment and welfare, and the 13th Five-Year Plan is "a great occasion to widen Italy's presence in the Chinese market not only with its products, but also as a supplier of know-how and technologies."
In his view, joint research can bring about new entrepreneurial models and services that could be exported to various other markets including Africa and Southeast Asia by combining Chinese and Italian strength points.
In order to bring Italian experts closer to the document and help them do related research, the Embassy of China presented the outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan translated into the Italian language.
In fact, understanding the plan and its core principles is key for Italy to eye the future development of bilateral relation, Vincenzo De Luca, director-general for the Promotion of the Italian Economic System at the Italian Foreign Ministry, underlined at the conference.
"And it is fundamental that the relation between Italy and China takes into account the priorities of Chinese government," he added.
De Luca said that the qualitative leap of Chinese manufacture, which is closely related to green economy, can especially be a driver of enhanced bilateral collaboration. "After Italian companies have strongly invested in China, it is the moment now of considerable Chinese investments in Italy, a major target of Chinese capital flows into Europe," he said.
Meanwhile, bilateral trade has also grown, De Luca added. But in order to help Italy's trade deficit with China decrease, Italian companies should work at reinforcing their assistance and post-sales services, as well as big distribution channels in China, thus achieve a more structured position in that market, he pointed out.
Exchanges at the university level are also an important driver of collaboration in innovative sectors, De Luca added. He noted that China and Italy have passed from a few collaboration exchanges to 10 double-degree agreements and more than 350 joint programs presently.
Vinicio Peluffo, chairperson of Amici della Cina, or "Friends of China," a China-friendly influence in the Italian parliament, hoped the 13th Five-Year Plan could also help Italians better understand the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, also known as the "Belt and Road" Initiative.
Italy, at the center of the Mediterranean, is in a crucial position expected to facilitate investment, trade and cultural flows from China, and must not miss this opportunity, Peluffo stressed.
"Our group will strengthen all possible collaboration instruments, starting from governmental institutions, to give a new impetus to bilateral relations," he concluded.